11.22.63 by Stephen King

 
Published by Scribner / Hardcover Edition November 8, 2011
Genres: Science Fiction / Historical Fiction / Real Life Events
Number of Pages: 849
Backup References: Wikipedia, Amazon.
 

Thought Stephen King’s books stayed in the past along with my-gone-too-soon teenage years. Time proved me wrong. On my way to USA, saw 11/22/63 in the hands of a fellow passenger and curiosity got the best of me.  Even more so after hearing him explain the twists and turns of the plot.

My take on 11/22/63

If you’re expecting to dive right into an intense conspiracy, leave that thought aside. To my dismay, the novel revolves around Oswald’s life and not the full-blown conspiracy I was expecting to read about. In fact, if anything, King’s thorough investigation and detailed portrayal of Harvey Lee Oswald brings to mind more questions than answers. How could an uneducated, resourceless, ill tempered, wife beater hillbilly —who couldn’t even hide from his own mother— pulled off the assassination of the most powerful man on earth?

It doesn’t add up and it doesn’t make sense, BUT I have to give it to him! He may not fit the profile, but even in death his timing had the precision of a Swiss watch!

Good old Harvey Oswald did it, or did he?

Plot:

Found inconsistencies. Writer takes his main character — a teacher named Jack Epping— back in time with the sole purpose of stopping JFK’s assassination. Jake walks through a sort of wormhole (located at the back of an old dinner) and lands in 1958. He goes back and forth and, what would turn out to be years in the past, only translates into two minutes in the future resulting in a complete re-set-of-events of that same past. Thus, traveling from present tense to past tense (yet again) and finding objects from the first-re-set in the second one is a tremendous misstep.

Why wouldn’t he go directly to the year 1963?  Because he understands the implications “time traveling” entails and simplifies the so-called butterfly effect while his character gets the chance to “practice” with difficult and obscure events that will prepare him for his ultimate “historical intervention.”

As the story unfolds, Jake finds an old cliché love story along the way. Hence, love blooms in between saving the world, correcting papers, flawless dancing, difficult teenagers, evil husband pursuits, the exact face disfigurement in two of the characters and a catastrophic nuclear accident as a direct consequence of Kennedy’s rescue.

In short, a man is given the opportunity to play a pivotal role in history and he comes back into the future empty handed and without accomplishing anything of importance. Epic, isn’t it?

Positives:

  • Fast paced.
  • The depiction of the decade is exquisitely detailed. Not only was Oswald profoundly investigated, but baby boomers’ USA as well. The author describes cars, clothing, television, music and food so vividly that one can almost watch the news in black and white, miss the Internet or even taste the creaminess of a good-old-granny-style ice cream.
  • Old characters pop up and crystallize for short periods of time. Those cameos serve him well in keeping his characters alive in the mind of his readers.
  • The end is not predictable.

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